Tylney Hall, Hampshire

Set in 66 acres of sprawling English countryside lies Tylney Hall, a beautiful 16th century country house hotel, full of traditional character and aristocratic charm. Owned by the Elite Hotel group, it is a popular wedding venue and weekend spa getaway destination, both of which we experienced during our stay (in fact, I spent an hour or two nosing at one of the gorgeous ballrooms which was being ladened with beautiful white peonies).

With original features and ornate fireplaces, the hotel offers all that we find charming in English heritage, yet with a more relaxed and welcoming feel than other stately home style accommodation. It’s grand and magnificent, but it’s not intimidating. You feel as though you’ve been whisked away from the world, but there are still your much needed remaining home comforts.

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Upon arriving, we were ushered into the grand foyer (along a red carpet I might add, a classy but noted touch) for a swift, friendly check in before being escorted up to our absolutely stunning room. I say room, it was more of a suite – with it’s very own living and dining area, and the most beautiful view (although I may be biased) across the incredible landscaped gardens. With a neutral, yet eloquent colour scheme and a bright, white bathroom complete with fluffy bathrobes (which we wasted no time in slipping into) – it feels like a home away from home, albeit a far more luxurious one. Instantly at ease, the surroundings take your breath away, without throwing you off balance and making you feel as though you have to spend your weekend tiptoeing around.

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We were very lucky with the weather and decided to make the most out of the stunning surroundings, taking a walk through the gorgeous gardens which were originally designed by  Gertrude Jekyll in 1906, but are now maintained by a team of six gardeners, who do a brilliant job of landscaping walkways for the guests to enjoy.

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Despite the rather inappropriate footwear, we spent an hour or two exploring the lakes, streams and woodlands before returning to the main terrace for a glass of champagne. Although many hotels of this size and magnitude are adults only, Tylney Hall is most certainly family friendly, with opportunities for kids croquet and couples coming to visit to walk their dogs. With a very relaxed, homely feel throughout – there’s even a heated outdoor pool, which I admired whilst sitting with a drink (there’s a poolside bar), basking in the sun. Although our bedroom (room 25, in case you were wondering) was in the main mansion house, we had a little look around The Orangery and the walled garden, which has a really lovely feel to it also.

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After extensive exploring, we sat down in ‘our’ living room for the evening, enjoying a film or two and a long soak in the bath before getting dressed for dinner at 7.30pm. A very civilised way to peruse the menu was introduced to us – over canapés and champagne in the lounge, before being taken to our table – in the equally as stunning Oak Room Restaurant, complete with floor to ceiling windows, drapes fit for royals and a fair few knives and forks (which luckily, we were given upon each course, rather than me deciding which of the ‘hundreds’ to use).

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My starter, as always, was of the seared scallop variety – which Tylney Hall did complete justice to. As you’ll know if you’ve read my previous reviews, scallops (in my opinion) are very hard to get right. Undercook and they are chewy and not so enjoyable, overcook and they are – um, chewy and not so enjoyable. Get it right, and they are melt in the mouth sensational. Luckily, these were the latter. Sion opted for the coarse pork and apricot pate with piccalilli and scotch Quail’s egg, which he quietly ate (always a good sign it has been enjoyed).

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Mains consisted of grilled fillet of Sea Bass with spiced lentil salsa and pak choy for me, and Char-grilled Rib-Eye steak with slow roasted Tomatoes, twice-cooked chips and sauce Béarnaise for Sion, complemented by a side of new potatoes and market vegetables.

Although expensive, the portions are just right – leaving you with a satisfiable and memorable meal, without heading back to your room (or should I say, waddling – which isn’t necessarily desirable) absolutely stuffed. In fact, there’s just enough on your plate to leave a little room for my favourite course. Dessert.

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An extensive pudding selection awaits, with my choice being the vanilla creme brûlée, and Sion’s the peanut butter and chocolate parfait. My only complaint of the entire meal (and stay for that matter), if I was to be extra picky is that the vegetarian options could have been a little better. You have to specifically ask for the vegetarian options, rather than them being on the menu, which isolates the choices a little – but when you do eventually have a browse of what is on offer, it’s slightly underwhelming and bland. I ordered fish based dishes, as I didn’t want to run the risk of not enjoying something – however I know a lady sitting on the table adjacent to us had the vegetarian options and seemed to really enjoy her meal, so I could be wrong.

Overall, we had an absolutely incredible stay at Tylney Hall. Large, historic country house hotels do have a stigma attached – whereby they are classed as being too over pretentious, overwhelming and intimidating, however this hotel strikes the perfect balance between luxury and warm hospitality. No question feels silly, no request too much and the staff are welcoming, kind and long serving – with a real sense that they care and love the place they work. If you’re ever planning a girlie getaway, a romantic break or simply, a weekend retreat – do consider Tylney Hall as a place to see. 60 minutes from London, and accessible via Hook or Basingstoke station (£15 taxi ride away) it’s within easy reach, but away from the hustle, bustle, strains and stresses of daily life.

**

Tylney Hall, Rotherwick, Hook, Hampshire, England, RG27 9AZ, +44 (0)1256 764881

Rooms start from £250 a night, with spa treatments starting at £40